How to Read a Credit Report

credit score reportBelieve it or not, it’s not too difficult to read a credit report. While each of the three credit bureaus uses a different format, they’re all pretty cut and dry, whether you’re reading it online or on paper.

Each report is separated into six sections: Personal ID Information, Credit History, Collections, Courthouse Records, Additional Information, Credit Inquiries.

Personal ID Information:
Here you’ll find your name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, and employment information, including your past employers and job titles. (This information is not used to determine your FICO score.) This section also may contain your spouse’s name, the name of your employer, phone numbers, and your driver’s license number.

Credit History:
This section contains your credit/loan accounts. For each account, the following information is listed:

Credit Cards (Revolving Credit)

Account name (American Express, Visa, Mastercard, etc.)
Account number
Date opened
Current balance
Highest balance
Amount past due
Credit limit
Type of credit – Revolving
Whether it’s a joint or authorized account. A joint account makes your financially responsible for paying what the other joint holder spends. An authorized user doesn’t and can help build your credit history and make it possible for you to qualify for an individual account.
Minimum payment required
Last activity – This date is the last payment or last charge you made.
Months reviewed – how many months the account history has been reported
Account status – open, paid and closed, inactive, paid in full
Your payment history – “pays as agreed,” “30 days late,” “60 days late, “90 days late,” “charge off” (the credit has attempted to get paid but has given up)

Best Installment Loans

Date opened
Type of credit (installment — mortgage, car loan, student loan, $3,000 dollar loan, etc.)
Whether it’s a joint, co-signed, individual account
Loan amount
Required monthly payments
Amount past due
How much you owe
Months reviewed – how many months the account history has been reported
Last activity – This date is the last payment you made.
Account status – open, paid and closed, inactive, paid in full
Your payment history – “pays as agreed,” “30 days late,” “60 days late, “90 days late,” “charge off” (the credit has attempted to get paid but has given up)

This section contains any delinquent accounts reported to collections agencies during the past 7 years. It contains the following:

Name of collection agency
Amount owed
When you pay off your debt, get it in writing from the collection agency and send it to the credit bureaus. Make sure the collection agency does the same.

Courthouse Records/Public Records:
This section contains the following records for up to 7 years, with the exception of bankruptcies:

Bankruptcies (up to 10 years old)
Overdue debt from collection agencies
Tax liens
Judgments from state and county courts
Overdue child support payments (in some states)

Additional Information:
This section may list your former employers and your past addresses.

Credit Inquiries:
This section is divided into two – voluntary and involuntary inquiries. Voluntary inquiries are those where creditors/lenders that have accessed your credit report with your permission over the last 2 years to determine your creditworthiness. Involuntary inquiries are those made by lenders that offer you credit by mail. These inquiries, and those made by your existing creditors, don’t affect your credit score. However, if you accept a pre-approved credit card offer made in the mail, or apply for credit, that acceptance will lead to an inquiry that will affect your credit score.

Other than celebrating now

7 lab reports that clearly state dh has NO cancer our week has been pretty calm, still haven’t had the confirmation from the doctor, but then who needs him when we have the official lab reports.
We worked on getting our container garden started this weekend. The base is constructed and the pots set. Now I just need to fill the pots. Warning a series of blog posts on this year’s garden is in the works. First post is just waiting for photos before it goes up. Probably later this afternoon.
It is so nice knowing that dh is fine and we can now settle back into a life routine of gardening, blogging, crafting and travel, oh yeah, housework and chores (bleh!) too.
We did our online check in for our celebration trip and confirmed all our reservations and such. Can’t wait to fly away for a long weekend.
Friday dh and I ran a few small errands for basic things like shoes, neither of us had purchased new shoes in over two years and our footwear was looking pretty bad. We both found good quality walking shoes on sale at a decent price. $50 below the budget I had set.
It is a good thing that came in under budget because I had decided to purchase a Brother PT Touch Labeler d-200 that was on sale for $20 at Staples. Of course they were out of it, and I had the electronics junkie with me so…thank goodness it was on half price sale… I came home with the D 600 for $50 instead. This sucker does everything but fly in the labeling world. Here’s hoping I don’t make it fly because it is too complex for me. Dh played with it some this weekend and of course downloaded a series of programs and bookmarked various websites for me to use in learning it.
I had originally wanted just a simple labeler for some organizing I am doing, but this one has where we can symbol code, label, bar code, color code up to 7 lines on various size labels. So now we are looking at starting that home inventory we have been talking about for a long time and coding everything by symbols and such. We started on that this weekend with the inch wide labels that came with it.
The first category is my Master Mixes. I am keeping those labels simple, a symbol for whether it is a dessert, or other type of mix, the recipe name, the cookbook it can be found in for its various uses and the page it is on. I came up with that format for the canning jars the various mixes are vacuum sealed in and then asked the guys to tell me what the label told them to see if it was clear. Both understood it immediately and said yes that would help them tremendously if I would label all the mixes that way. Since they are both excellent cooks I definitely want to encourage their cooking anyway I can. LOL!
I am creating simple excel files to record the info we gather as we label and sort so if we ever have a fire like my neighbor did we might at least have an idea of some of the stuff we own. Trust me this is going to be a long drawn out process with a whole lot of labels going down. But then this is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. I hate clutter and disorganization. Don’t worry it won’t be as bad as “Sleeping with the Enemy” but it will be much more organized around here.
If anyone is using this model and can offer helpful hints I would appreciate it. I did find out that amazon is a LOT cheaper on the label cassettes for it and ordered one each of the .5, .75 and 1 inch cassets (well the half inch one was a twin pack).
While at Staples we learned that they carry the Sodastream products there including the double sized gas canister for lower than other places we had previously priced. Then there is the added bonus of the Staples Reward card and using the store credits recycled printer cartridges to get the big canister and then later for the exchanges for it.
Royalty check hit, but it was a lot lower than it has been being. I expected it to be lower because oil and natural gas prices are down, which in turn affects my royalty checks. But we save more at the fuel station so it all works out with as much driving as we do.
I have became addicted to going to Tuesday Morning for craft supplies. I am finding things from my “I want some day” list for 75% off there and have been slowly purchasing those items as they become available. Great, now more stuff to inventory and use. LOL! Don’t worry my Dave Ramsey training keeps me under my crafting budget each visit. I definitely don’t want to go back into debt ever again.
On the debt front I am anxiously waiting for the next two days to pass so I can put another extra principal payment on my first mortgage. Because it is so close to the due date (tomorrow) I can’t just pay that royalty check on to the principal until the auto draft for the normal monthly payment hits. Boring.
More exciting: 43 years ago today I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. Happy Birthday Samantha! Of course she won’t see this here, but then I have already told her Happy Birthday today. It’s just good to celebrate wherever though.

I have started looking at June’s budget.

We usually get our electric/gas bill in around now so that kind of kicks it off. However 99% of the budget does not change much now. Usually we just tweak numbers for utilities and once in a blue moon we’ll adjust 1-2 other categories.
Oh, I did try to set up online banking where we have our HSA. However I think I messed up because when I chose the type of account I chose checking instead of saving. I need to go back an look at that.

Good morning! The answer is yes!

you can pay online, in one of two ways. The first way is to get set up on what’s called Electronic Federal Tax Payment System ( You create an account there and then make payments. That is how we paid our back taxes for two years (which we paid off earlier this year, yay!) The good news is that service is free. The bad news is, you may not have enough time to get your account set up. Being the federal gov, there are certain hoops you have to jump through (getting a PIN from them, for example). It’s a great system if you have to make a series of payments over time. For a single payment like yours, particularly if it’s coming due soon, it might not be worth the hassle.
A second option is to go directly to the website, and click on the Pay Your Tax Bill which is one of the main options across the top of the page. That will take you to another IRS page which gives you a variety of both free and fee-for-service options. The fees are generally quite low, on the order of less than $5.00. You can go to that page and start to walk through some of the options and figure out which option suits you.
Sorry to hear about the car. We’re finally closing in on being done with my truck’s conversion away from computer emissions control (many of which were failing) back to mechanical emissions control. The estimated bill to do the conversion was between $1000 – $1500, but doing it ourselves so far it’s been less than $500. The catch is that we could have been done months ago if we’d just paid someone. I’ve had to really bone up on my automotive electrical knowledge to tackle this project. Nice to almost be done, but there’s always some price to be paid in either time, effort or cold hard cash. I hope you come up with a solution that works for you.

I am ‘uncloaking’ because I wanted to shared my big achievement

Yesterday I paid off my last credit card! I started Financial Peace in April 2014. I know a number of people who’ve done FPU. I felt convinced this had to be a better way to handle my finances. I had a bout $10,000 of debt on 3 credit cards. It took about 14 months to pay it off. It was funny when I went to the bank to pay it off and cancel it. The clerk said ‘Are you sure? You’re credit score will go down.” I told her, it didn’t matter, I was one of those crazy ‘no debt’ people. lol. Ready for the next step. In my case, I’m strongly considering setting aside 3-6 months of savings because I work for myself. I have 2 great clients for the next 6-9 months, but then will lose 1 of them. So I just want to anticipate that potentially slower period and sock some money away. THEN, focus fully on my student loan debt. Not to say I wouldn’t make any extra payments on my student loan now, I would put the majority of my ‘extra’ money in savings, and a smaller amount (but still way more than the minimum) on my student loan. Relative to some people my student loan debt is pretty low, about $20,000. I’m actually excited about attacking it. I believe I can conquer it. If you’re curious, I live in metro Atlanta, GA. I am a writer, primarily writing grant proposals for non-profits in the arts. I also teach yoga and do voice-overs, in particular audiobooks and webinars. I’m the single mother of a grown child (27 years old) who doesn’t live with me. So, I’m in a great position to be selfish and single-minded in my goal to be debt-free.

3rd homework update in the series

Yesterday they had a company wide meeting at the guys office. We knew the company has been struggling this last several months. They have slowly been letting people go. Including the comptroller who changed the pay days on us a couple of years ago, they let 4 more go yesterday. No my men were not laid off, but…
Everyone, according to the boss, remaining are the cream of the crop and they would like to keep, but to do so everyone was going to have to take a 10% cut in pay. Because of our 6 year journey we are fine even with the new short term loan. Others in the company are freaking out.
During the meeting my guys were told there would be no layoffs in their department because basically they are what is keeping the company solvent.
Today the company rumor mill is certain ones in the company will not get a pay cut. Dh and I are hoping ds is one of those as he recently got moved up in rank at the company, without a pay raise, so it would only be fair they not cut his pay. We won’t know one way or another until this time next month.

So while we are boogie dancing over paying off the first mortgage

We are also thinking ahead to paying off the second, by the end of the year and THEN paying cash a new to us fifth wheel to replace our 2001 30 ft Sierra that has 2 slides.
We had decided on an amount, a size and hopefully in good condition, definitely better shape mandatory.
Well you know what they say about plans…
We have spent weeks on the web “window shopping” fifth wheels to get an idea on what we want vs what we need. We researched blue book on both our old one and ones we liked. We are talking serious research hours logged in.
Last Friday just for something to do we went physically window shopping.
Not certain if what happened is good or bad. You know how DR talks about finding older garage kept cars in mint condition for a very low price?
Apparently rvs of that type also exist, because we found one. A 2004 Keystone Montanna 36 ft, 4 slides without a blemish on it inside and out, new top of the line rv tires, full 7 year bumper to bumper warranty, absolutely gorgeous. Plus the added bonus it is has an Arctic Polar Package on it. That means it is set up for year round camping, even in extreme weather.
Two air conditioners (old one has 1 old one), a fake fireplace with blower as well as a much larger furnace than the old one has.
Similar units all over the web are $34,000 to $50,000. Way above the amount we were willing to pay, if we had the purchase money already totally saved. Plus based on the photos on the web none were in as good shape as this one. None had slide toppers either.
Just for fun we asked the price. With the toppers added (a $3000 cost). We are paying $22,000 less an above book value trade in on our Sierra. It is a wonderful unit. The bad news, was to get it we had to buy it now not January. That meant a very low interest loan for 6 months or so. Neither of us is happy about the loan, but after touring it numerous times, dh going over it mechanically with a fine tooth comb. Me checking all the domestic issues inside thoroughly. And an rv tech specialist also going over it and telling us it was one of the best condition used units he had ever seen. It is a little older than we had planned on getting, but the full warranty and aluminum instead of a wood frame make up for that. So we are going to pay off the second mortgage while making minimum payments on the trailer then pay the trailer off 2 to 3 months later.